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Ipswich not likely to follow Bury’s lead in the battle of floral towns

PUBLISHED: 15:37 12 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:05 12 September 2018

The Upper Arboretum in Christchurch Park - a colourful oasis in the town. Picture: PAUL GEATER

The Upper Arboretum in Christchurch Park - a colourful oasis in the town. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Archant

As Bury St Edmunds was celebrating reaching the final of the Britain in Bloom competition, in Ipswich there were congratulations for the Suffolk neighbour – but also a call for the town to rediscover its green fingers.

Randall Bevan is head over heels by the town's success in Britain in Bloom 1983, watched by Rodney Cook in the arboretum. Picture: ARCHANTRandall Bevan is head over heels by the town's success in Britain in Bloom 1983, watched by Rodney Cook in the arboretum. Picture: ARCHANT

Back in the early to mid 1980s, Ipswich was a regular winner of the national Britain in Bloom competition as the community got behind calls to put up hanging baskets and turn their gardens into a riot of colour.

It was masterminded by Randall Bevan, who was then head of recreation and amenities at the borough council. He was able to put the authority’s parks workers behind the competition – but also to motivate the public to get involved.

He said: “It was tremendous effort. The town looked good and I remember taking the judges to the Chantry estate where they were really impressed by the efforts that had been put in.

“It was wonderful for the town and put us on the tourist map – it would be really good to see that happen again. I’d be happy to give anyone who wants to do it some advice.”

Mr Bevan, a former international trampolinist, couldn’t resist jumping for joy in the upper arboretum at Christchurch Park after one of the town’s successes.

A few years ago Ipswich Central brought in some planters to the heart of the town – but the BID company’s chairman Terry Baxter said it was unrealistic to think of mounting a Britain in Bloom challenge without most of the support coming from the borough.

St Edmundsbury Council has been a main sponsor of the Bury in Bloom effort with the council-owned Abbey Gardens at the heart of the application.

Mr Baxter said: “Good luck to Bury. It might be nice to see Ipswich enter again – but anything like that would have to be organised by the borough and they have different priorities.”

There were a few planters still in the town, but not a significant number. Ipswich Central was working with businesses to make its heart more attractive – especially with the Cornhill due to reopen at the end of next month.

The council still has stunning floral displays in its parks and on some of the town’s roundabouts – but it does not seem to be ready to enter the national competition again in the near future.

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